Moving to your first apartment in New York is always a big deal. Whether you are a student, getting your first place after graduating from college, a new Graduate school professional, a young family moving to the big city, or a retired couple – coming to enjoy the city’s rich cultural life… We all need a lot of information before moving to an NYC apartment.
New York is expensive, everything you need to do will cost you money and you need to be prepared for the expense and the hustle you might encounter when trying to move to New York City.
1. Finding an apartment to rent in New York City – Research the market before you move to the city. the Internet offers a slew of tools to help you find a place to live at a price you can afford:
- Craigslist – Check Craigslist’s Real estate section and check the By Owner/No Fee apartments. If you are in a hurry, or can splurge, the Brokers listings can be more attractive and brokers can help you settle into your new place with less effort.
- New York Times website’s real estate section – I am a big fan of this website. I found my apartment through this great real estate information trove. I have a great tip for apartment searchers. The website lists the new real estate ads on Friday evening. While the actual paper subscribers only see those on Saturday morning. This gives you a full evening to make phone calls, go and look at apartments and close a deal before the non digital population even had a chance to wake up and smell the coffee. There are many No Fee listings as well as Brokers advertizing great opportunities.
- Street Easy – Great, and FREE real estate website that provides up to date information about rentals and sales opportunities in the New york City Real Estate market. It provides online maps as well as current information about schools, services, restaurants etc in all five boroughs, Northern New Jersey and the Hamptons.
- Naked apartments – Naked apartments is a New York City market place for buyers sellers, brokers and renters. they offer a whole section for No Fee rentals and have a lot of helpful neighborhood information, and they have a great mobile app that can help you hunt for an apartment from afar.
- Facebook – Facebook is bouncing with real estate action. Post and let your friends and network member know that you are looking for an apartment in NYC and wait and see what will surface. sometimes people need to leave an apartment for whatever reason and need to find a new room mate or someone who will rent the place. Ask your family and friends to share your message. Twitter and Google+ are also good places to tell people you are in the market.
- Another great resource is the city’s Affordable housing resource center website – A little old fashioned and stogy, but loaded with great information about NYC affordable housing and where to look for your first apartment.
2. Prepare for a large cash outlay – Unlike most cities in the US, the renters is the person who pays the broker’s fee in NYC. In most other Real estate markets in the US, it is the property owner who pays the broker’s fee. How much is the broker’s fee going to be? It is usually between seven and fifteen percent of the apartment’s annual rent. You will need to pay this sum to your broker before being able to get your key and move to the premises. You will also need to pay the property owner at least two months of rent. So prepare to have to pay three to four months of rent as you move in. Some property management firms charge the prospective tenant a credit check fee that can be between $100 to $200. And some landlords charge a “Move in” fee. These fees can apply to what are described as “No fee” apartments…. Be aware that you need more than the first month rent in your bank account if you intend to rent an apartment in NYC.
3. Guarantors – You might need a guarantor for your first rental if you don’t meet the landlord’s income requirements. Most of the time, landlords require guarantors from either NYC or the tri- state area. (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) If you do not have a someone who is willing to act as your guarantor in this geographic area, you might need to hire a company to act as your guarantor. Companies like Insurent, Bond OO7 and Phly can act as guarantors for your rental contract. Fees vary, so shop around and check the company’s references and BBB rating carefully before signing with anyone.
4. Negotiating with the landlord about the rent – it is not easy to negotiate down your rent in a city like New york that is in a chronic short supply of rental apartments or affordable housing. some times it is possible to do so. One of the tell tale signs of an opportunity to decrease the rent is an apartment that has been in the market longer than usual. If a property has been offered for more than a month and is still available, than the landlord will be more accommodating and might agree to a rent decrease if you are willing to sign the contract quickly and pass the credit check with flying colors. If you are handy with the tool belt, than one of the was t get a rental at a great price is to find apartments in bad shape and offer to renovate them as part of the rent. This is a great way to get a great apartments in a great location. Sweat equity is still valuable when you are trying to get your first place in New York City.
5. Be flexible – Consider living in the outer boroughs- Renting your first apartment in New York is always going to be challenging. Manhattan has a chronic shortage of rental apartments and this shortage gets worse at certain times in the year. Take a look at our post “when to move to a new home“. Timing your move to the city might be a crucial aspect to your success in finding an apartment in the neighborhood that you want to live in. If you can’t find an adequate place in Manhattan, than consider moving to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island. The outer boroughs contain properties that are cheaper than than similar ones in Manhattan. Many neighborhoods in these boroughs are a short subway ride to the city and offer great neighborhoods, excellent schools, shopping strips, restaurants and everything else that New York City has to offer. Check out our blog posts about and familiarize yourself with the different neighborhoods in New York City’s boroughs. Park Slope, Williamsburg, Dumbo and Fort Green and great destinations for renters, even though Park Slope might be on the pricier side. Queens offers neighborhoods such as Long Island City and Astoria, which are considered up and coming in terms of amnesties and property value.
6. Share with friends – If you find it hard to come up with all the four months rent in advance, you should consider sharing an apartment. You will be moving into an apartment that is already rented out and one of the room mates already signed a contract for it. In this situation, you will only need to pay the first and last months rent. You don’t have to deal with the security deposit and all the other fees that are associated with a new rental. This might be ideal for newly graduated students who are used to sharing their lodgings with other young people. Sharing for a while, gives you the opportunity to settle down somewhat, find employment, get your credit record straight and prepare to move to a place of your own in NYC.
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